Rochester NY Stake Employment Center

December 3, 2011

Hook ‘Em With Your Application

Filed under: Applying for a Job — Larry @ 9:45 am

When you’re ready for a new job, you buy the thickest job search book at Borders, find a cover letter and resume that look good to you, tailor them to your personal information, and, voila, you’re ready to start your job search. Your cover letter sounds professional, there are no typos in your resume and you have all the skills required for the position. But you’re not getting any interviews.

Job seekers are shooting themselves in the feet all because they’re not giving just a small amount of extra effort. Create a connection between you and the job, company, industry or leadership, and you increase your chances of an interview and an offer.

As you begin your research on a prospective employer, keep an eye out for any clues that could lead to a personal connection with someone in the company.

If the company’s Internet site contains executive biographies, read them carefully for any possible connections. Weave this information into your cover letter and send it to the executive with whom you found a connection. Send a second letter to the human resources contact.

Perhaps you’ve unknowingly volunteered side by side with someone from the company you’re targeting. Check out information about any foundations the company may have or corporate sponsored charity. Call the head of community relations to see if you can make a connection. He or she may be willing to get your resume to the right person.

Check out trade publications and press release archives. Who are the company’s major suppliers and clients? Perhaps you’ve worked for one of them as an employee or intern, done freelance work for one of their divisions or know someone who works for one of their clients.

You also can use this same process to identify connections between your previous employers and those you are targeting. One person who applied to Loyola University in Chicago cited her work experience in Catholic higher education as well as her knowledge of the Jesuit mission from attending Loyola New Orleans.

Have you attended seminars or industry events that featured the CEO or another top-level executive of a company that you are targeting for employment? Include a sentence or two about something he or she said during the speech in your cover letter.

Are you a member of the same professional organization as the hiring manager? Use this information to demonstrate that you know the business and already have a connection to the company. Include a statement about the benefits of the organization in your contact letter.

Have you worked for a competitor of the prospective employer? More than likely you have great industry contacts and understand the challenges in the industry. This is a distinct advantage that can spell success for you.

Your hook to the prospective employer can reap rewards ranging from winning an interview to receiving a job offer. The key is finding your hook and using it in your contact with the prospective employer.

Monroe County DHS Weekly Employment Bulletin 7Nov2011

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June 13, 2011

How to decode employment ad phrases

Filed under: Applying for a Job, Resume Writing — Larry @ 11:28 am

Contrary to many job seekers’ fears, employment ads are more likely to be wish lists than demands. But reading these ads, it’s often hard to tell what these companies are actually wishing for. It’s a good idea to decode confusing phrases before you apply, so you’ll avoid wasting time on jobs out of your reach, and not overlook that perfect fit position.

Experience required, or preferred?

  • Experience preferred: The company hopes you have done most of the tasks in the job description. If you haven’t you won’t automatically be disqualified.
  • Experience required: You should have done most of the tasks of the job advertised. However, the exact amount of experience they want is sometimes negotiable. And remember that your experience can be in a particular field or position, or you might have more general experience or transferable skills that you can apply to the specific job advertised.
  • Will train: It’s fine if you don’t have direct experience. In some cases — rare, but it happens — companies want people without experience, so they won’t have to unlearn the ways of a previous employer.

Senior-, junior- or entry-level?

Entry-level jobs require the least experience and are open to candidates just out of school. You should have a few years of experience for a junior-level position, and you must be highly proficient with more than five years of experience, generally, for a senior-level role.

Sometimes the level is implied but not stated in the title itself. For example, "senior administrative assistant" (senior) will require more experience than "administrative assistant," (junior) which will require more experience than "receptionist" (entry level).

Also consider the size of the company. A senior position in a large firm may require decades of experience; in a small company a few years may be adequate.

Knowledge and proficiency

  • Working knowledge of: This means that you should be familiar with the topic, tool, technique or software, but it’s not necessary that you’ve used them.
  • Proficient in: You have handled certain tasks and tools in the past, but may not know the finer points. If you have a year of hands-on experience, that should be enough.
  • Command of: You are so experienced with a task, skill or software that you could teach others how it works.

Personal qualities

Phrases that seem like meaningless jargon are actually ways of finding intangible personal qualities. Some examples:

  • Highly motivated: They want to be sure you have passion and commitment for the job and you’re not applying just for a paycheck.
  • Team player and/or good interpersonal skills: They want to know if you work well with others, even if your job requires working independently. Being able to collaborate when necessary is important for most jobs.
  • Works well under pressure: They want to make sure you won’t flip out if your deadline is pushed up a day or two.
  • Thinks outside of the box: They want you to have some original and innovative ideas. Then again, they don’t want a loose cannon; teamwork almost always takes precedence over genius, no matter what the want ads say.

Be specific in your own résumé.

As confusing as want ads can be for job candidates, résumés can be just as confusing for employers, according to Hassan Akmal, director of career services for DeVry University in Sherman Oaks, Palmdale and Oxnard, California. Akmal recommends working with a counselor who will help you use the terms correctly on your résumé. "You don’t want to mislead a hiring manager by inflating your skills. For example, don’t say you are experienced in a language when you only know a few words."

Should you apply?

Most career counselors recommend applying even when you don’t fit all the criteria. "With so many applicants today, if a company demands a certain number of years of experience, they will find many [candidates] to choose from, but sometimes they will choose a candidate with less experience who shines in other ways," Akmal says.

Jenna Gausman, a career counselor at Santa Monica College, says it’s okay to apply for a position that is one step higher or one step lower than your level of experience. "You never know if the organization might just have the opportunity to bring someone up to speed if you don’t have all the experience they want. Putting time into a really good cover letter as to why you are ready for the next step will help the candidate land an interview."

from MONROE COUNTY DHS Weekly Employment Bulletin – 13June2011

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